Sun | Jan 24, 2021

Tokyo Olympic organisers plan to host 18 test events

Published:Friday | November 27, 2020 | 10:38 AM
In this March 24, 2020, file photo, a man is seen through the Olympic rings in front of the New National Stadium in Tokyo. Tokyo Olympic organizers on Friday, November 27, 2020, announced a series of 18 test events set to begin in March and run into May. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

TOKYO (AP) — The postponed Tokyo Olympics are getting a kickstart.

Local organisers on Friday announced a series of 18 test events set to begin in March and run into May.

The Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23, 2021, after being postponed eight months ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement in an online news conference came the same day that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported a one-day record of 570 new coronavirus infections in the capital.

Although Japan has handled the pandemic better than most countries, cases have been surging recently with about 2,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in a country of 125 million.

Officials said at least four of the test events will involve athletes from abroad, including tests in swimming, gymnastics, diving, and volleyball.

A track and field meet on May 9 at the new National Stadium is listed as a test event.

It is not clear if athletes from abroad will participate.

Hidemasa Nakamura, the games delivery officer, said none of the test events will allow fans from abroad, although some events will permit an unspecified number of fans from Japan.

“No, we will not have spectators from abroad,” Nakamura said.

Several of the events will not even involve athletes, testing “operations” only as a way to cut back on spending.

Japan has held sports events recently with fans. The final game of the Japan Series of professional baseball this week drew about 19,000 fans in a 38,000-seat stadium in Fukuoka.

And a few thousand fans were allowed to attend an international gymnastics event earlier this month in Tokyo.

“As for the number of spectators, we have to take the guidelines of the Japanese government into consideration,” said Yasuo Mori, who works with Nakamura on games delivery.

The announcement by the Tokyo organising committee is the latest in a campaign over the last several months to convince a global audience, sponsors, and the Japanese public that the Olympics and Paralympics will take place despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

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